Tip of the Week: Rinse and Repeat
Often we’re our own worst enemy when it comes to the spread of disease around a shelter or rescue. A worthwhile exercise is to schedule a regular check on each room, process or task to identify those points of highest risk for cross-contamination. This is a great learning opportunity for staff and volunteers, making them much more aware of how even the smallest of their actions help to spread or prevent the spread of disease.
Let’s look at a process—the animal exam. A technician examines an animal—touching with hands, table, shirt, possibly flea comb, nail clippers, etc. Where do each of these items go next? Does that next step in the process help to insure that cross-contamination will not occur?
- Do the comb and nail clippers go directly into a disinfectant?
- Are the gloves disposed of, the smock top in the laundry? If not, when would they be?
- Is the leash reused? Is the cat carrier disinfected between cats?
- How does the next staff or volunteer to use these things know if it has been disinfected? By signage? By its location?
Take some time to look at each of your processes, from intake and exam to laundry and animal feeding. Look at each through the lens of contamination, identify where the weak points are, build in some safeguards, write down, discuss and post the best practice that you develop—and then schedule times throughout the year to have someone take another look at the process. Rotate who looks at what so that a fresh set of eyes might catch what others have missed and more and more staff and volunteers can become sensitized to this important issue.
How are you putting the kibosh on cross-contamination at your agency?
Meet us here on Mondays for tips we’ve gleaned and seen that may make your life a little easier, make a routine process go a little faster or deliver some extra comfort for the animals in your care.
Photo: Dr. Sandra Newbury